Lingaraj temple is one of the most popular temples of Orissa. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, also known as ‘Lingaraj’. It is adorned with beautiful sculptures, which have been carved on the spire. Lingaraja temple is approximately 54.8 metres high and enshrines a huge statue of Lord Shiva, made up of granite. The idol is 8 feet in diameter and is placed on a platform that is about 8 inches above ground.
The temple is more than 1000 years old, dating back in its present form to the last decade of the eleventh century, though there is evidence that parts of the temple have been there since sixth century AD as the temple has been emphasized in some of the seventh century Sanskrit texts. This is testimony to its sanctity and importance as a Shiva shrine. By the time the Lingaraj temple was constructed, the Jagannath (form of Vishnu) cult had been growing, which historians believe is evidenced by the co-existence of Vishnu and Shiva worship at the temple.
The temple is traditionally believed, though without historical authentication, to be built by the Somavanshi king Jajati Keshari, in 11th century AD. Jajati Keshari had shifted his capital from Jajpur to Bhubaneswar which was referred to as Ekamra Kshetra in the Brahma Purana, an ancient scripture (Wikipedia)
In order of precedence of visting the deities within the precincts of the Lingaraja temple, the name of Ganesh worshipped in a temple to the right of the flight of steps comes first. It consists of a rekha deula and pidha jagamohana. There is a inscription in Telugu characters on the eastern wall of the sanctum belonging to the time of chodaganga deva. The inscription of the fourth year of Narasimhadeva-I (1240 AD) eulogises sidha Lambodara in equal terms with Lord Kirtivasa (Lingaraja).(source)
Monkey is considered sacred in India. Pilgrims as shown above often feed these monkeys near temple india. Monkeys are seen as a manifestation of the monkey god Hanuman by many Hindus, who feed them and are prohibited from killing them by their religion.
I have seen people as young as 5 years kids were feeding monkey near Dakhineswar Kali temple. Parents also encourage their children to feed these sacred monkeys
It was fairly cloudy and humid day when started my journey to Dakhineswar Kali temple. The temple is situated on the other side of the Hooghly river. One has to go Belur Math by bus from Howrah station and then walk through the Belur Math and cross the Hooghly river by boat or one can go by road via Jubilee bridge, which connects one end of Hooghly river to the other end.
Unlike Kalight temple, this temple is free from corrupted temple priest, one can buy prasad for the goddess and go straight to temple and offer prayer to the kali goddess.
In the year 1847, Rani Rashmoni, a wealthy zamindari widow prepared to go upon a long pilgrimage to the sacred Hindu city of Kashi to express her devotions to the Divine Mother. Rani was to travel in twenty four boats, carrying relatives, servants and supplies. According to traditional accounts, the night before the pilgrimage began, Rashmoni had a vision of the Divine Mother, in the form of the goddess Kali in a dream and reportedly said
Profoundly affected by the dream, Rani immediately looked for and purchased land, and promptly began construction of the temple. The large temple complex was built between 1847 and 1855.
The 20 acre plot was bought from an Englishman, John Hastie and was then popularly known as Saheban Bagicha, partly old Muslim burial ground shaped like a tortoise, considered befitting for the worship of Shakti according to Tantra traditions, it took eight years and nine hundred thousand rupees to complete the construction, and finally the idol of Goddess Kali was installed 31st May 1855, amid festivities at the temple formally known as Sri Sri Jagadishwari Mahakali, with Ramkumar Chhattopadhyay as the head priest; soon his younger brother Gadai or Gadadhar (later known as Ramakrishna) moved in and so did nephew Hriday to assist him.
The next year, Ramkumar Chhattopadhyay died, the position was given to Ramakrishna, along with his wife Sarada Devi, who stayed in the south side of the Nahabat (music room), in a small room on the ground floor, which now a shrine dedicated to her.
From then until his death 30 years later in 1886, Ramakrishna was responsible for bringing much in the way of both fame and pilgrims to the temple.(wikipedia)
Asitagirisamam syat kaijalam sindhupatre
Likhati yadi grihitva Sarada sarvakalam
Tadapi tava gunanamisa param na yati
which means: "Oh Lord, if the blue mountian be the ink, the ocean the ink-pot, the biggest branch of the heavenly tree be the pen, the earth the writing leaf and taking these if Sarada, the goddess of learning, writes for eternity, even then the limit of Your virtues will not be reached
Belur Math was established by Swami Vivekananda in 1897. One can get bus/taxi from Howrah train station for Belur. It would cost 6 rupees in Bus and would take half an hour to reach at Belur.
View of the temple from Hooghly River
It is a great place near kolkata to visit, one could get away from busy city life of Kolkata and enjoy a peace and quiet day at Belur Math.
The Swami Vivekananda Temple stands on the spot where Swami Vivekananda’s mortal remains were cremated in 1902. Consecrated on 28 January 1924, the temple has in its upper storey an alabaster OM (in Bengali characters). Beside the temple stands a bel (bilva) tree in the place of the original bel tree under which Swami Vivekananda used to sit and near which, according to his wish, his body was cremated. On July 4, 1902 at Belur Math, he taught Vedanta philosophy to some pupils in the morning. He had a walk with Swami Premananda, a brother-disciple, and gave him instructions concerning the future of the Ramakrishna Math. He passed away in the evening after a session of prayer at Belur Math. He was 39. Vivekananda had fulfilled his own prophecy of not living to be forty-years old. (Wikipedia)
The Hooghly river is one of the sacred river of West Bengal. One need to cross this river either by bridge or by small boats to go to Dakhineswar Kali temple, which is located on the other side of this river. It is one of the branch river of the great indian river the Ganges. The river's average depth is 200 feet (61 m) and maximum depth is 381 feet (116 m).
In its upper reaches the river is generally known as the Bhāgirathi, until it reaches Hooghly. The word Bhāgirathi literally means "caused by Bhagiratha", a mythical Sagar Dynasty prince who was instrumental in bringing the river Ganga from the heavens on to the earth, in order to release his 60,000 grand-uncles from a curse of the saint Kapila. (wikipedia)
Howrah train station was built in 1854. The station was initially built to link coalfields in Bardhaman district of West Bengal to Howrah in 1854.
There are currently 23 platforms in Howrah Station. It is slated to get an additional 15 platform tracks north of the current station in the next decade to bring it up to a total of 37 platform tracks.
Howrah Bridge connects Howrah to Kolkata. It is one of the busiest bridge of world. The New Howrah Bridge was built between 1937 and 1943 and had a single 450 m span. It is technically a cantilever truss bridge, constructed entirely by riveting, without nuts or bolts. It is currently used as a road bridge, but previously had a tram route as well. On 14 June 1965 it was renamed Rabindra Setu, after Rabindranath Tagore a great poet and the first Indian Nobel laureate. However it is still popularly known as the Howrah Bridge. (Source:Wikipedia)